U.S. concerned Russia will obtain biological weapons in Ukraine, Nuland tells Senators
"There is no doubt" that the Russians could release a biological weapon and blame it on Ukraine, the State Department official said.
The United States is "quite concerned" that invading Russian forces are attempting to obtain biological materials from Ukrainian research facilities, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked Nuland if Ukraine has any "chemical or biological weapons."
The Russian military on Tuesday claimed that Ukraine hosts a "network of more than 30 biological laboratories," Russia state media Tass claimed.
Nuland confirmed that Ukraine has biological research facilities, which Russia could then use as propaganda for a staged attack.
"Ukraine has biological research facilities, which we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to gain control of," Nuland told senators.
"We are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach," she added.
Rubio said that Russian is already distributing propaganda with "all kinds of information about how they've uncovered a plot by the Ukranians to release biological weapons in the country and with NATO's coordination."
The Florida Republican asked Nuland, "If there's a biological incident tor attack inside of Ukraine, is there any doubt in your mind that 100% it would be the Russians that would be behind it?"
"There is no doubt in my mind, senator, and it is classic Russian technique to blame on the other guy what they’re planning to do themselves," Nuland responded.
Additinally during the hearing, Nuland mentioned that the United States was surprised to learn that Poland had given all of its MiG-29 Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine.
"To my knowledge, it wasn't pre-consulted with us that they planned to give these planes to us," Nuland told the committee. "So I think that actually was a surprise move by the Poles."